Leaves the 99

I have always marveled at the risk involved in the parable of the lost sheep. In fact, I can actually see the economists in the crowd shaking their heads and coming up to J. afterwards and trying to convince him that it just doesn’t make sense.

One lost sheep? Who is gonna watch the others?

I have a tendency to worry about all the sheep. What if there are wolves? Wolves stress me out. But J is unswerving. He leaves the 99 and goes to find the one. lost. sheep.

Of course he knows some secrets.

Like: the 99 are actually supposed to watch out for each other.

Like: a few stubborn jackasses in the flock help keep the wolves at bay.

Like: I am the one lost sheep. You are the one lost sheep.

We are all lost without him.

For J every last flipping one of us is that solitary-witless-easily-confused-fluffy-lost sheep.

Sometimes the only thing one needs to do to be found is to admit that one is lost.

Real lost

Without him.


4:21 am

After a solid fudging week of losing thumb wars to the god of grief I decide to change my stance.

Fine, I say, keep me up if you want, but we are going to do this together.

Make no mistake. He is not my friend. He is the quiet satellite tech on the slow train north. He is the Russian student who used to try to beguile me with roses and sweet talk. He is the dark standing just shy of sunset. All these years I have avoided his gaze, pretended I didn’t notice him at the same parties, never wailed and pummeled his dark, cold chest.

You win, I say, snake hole, only to realize he hasn’t, can’t because You have already–no matter how many days to resurrection.

Night River

The disembodied woman on the late night public radio station compares colors we cannot see to the notes we cannot hear in the full spectrum of light shaken by wind, the tree next to the street light makes a shadow puppet barn owl with its bare limbs alive, snow-globe present in this river of sky the color of a song sung by invisible voices, if I believed in ghosts you are there, touching my shoulder blade reminding me we all live forever somewhere, shiver down spine no word for this beautiful mammalian

Night river.

Winter Storm

Over my shoulder I hear the PBS lady tell my sons about blizzards, how they are just snow storms unless the wind is strong and fast. Here in Texas we have driving rain, not driven snow, and it is the percussive light which wakes the dogs in the night. Poised for a fight. Hurricanes have the eyes of Quint’s soulless sharks as they roll across the landscape of childhood and wakefulness I will momentarily regret the home I left in fear. Regret what I did not leave there. Regret what I did, but not the winds. The winds around the eye, the deceptively calm eye, of every storm that changes the landscape

Of who we once were.


This started as a break up but ended with old friend, Wakefulness here in the dark, in the storm

It was a dark and stormy night! But it was the dogs that kept me up

Dogs of the past

Dogs of war

That dog whose name* I can’t remember who re-enacted classics like The Prince and the Pauper.

When names and sleep elude you, there are sheep. They start out chalky, outlined, and two dimensional, but they elaborate

In depth, complexity, and general fluffiness, but also about the weather, dogs barking at night, and all the ways it was and wasn’t my fault this chance we took hurt so much.


Thigh-High Hell

Lauren Duca, famous for “thigh-high” politics and damning people to hell, has reminded me of a very old joke-

A person is ushered into hell and told to choose between two rooms. In one people appeared to be stuck head-first in a solid foot of manure. In the other they are standing, with coffee mugs, in several feet of manure. Upon reflection the newbie chooses the second option. As soon as soon as the choice is made, a disembodied voice says, “coffee break over, get back on your heads!”

But in all seriousness, hell is no joke. Neither is death or AIDS or anti-semitism, or abortion or sexism or segregation or war.

Lauren’s comments about Graham illuminate her anger and her politics. Calling anyone an epithet like “shit” or “bitch” is an act of dehumanization and should elicit questions about why the speaker is that angry.

So I read Graham’s biography. He was just a guy. He did some brave things, he made some big mistakes. He was flawed and occasionally made public comments he regretted or private comments he regretted even more. A public figure of mixed repute who said or did things he sometimes regretted–not that different than Lauren Duca.

By my estimation Duca is in her 20s, which means she is a cool three-quarters of a century younger than Graham. She is young, young and apparently angry.

I wonder if Duca would have said what she did had she been older or done some research on literal hells.

I am a lot older than Duca and a lot younger than Graham. At fifty my regrets come back to me, chalky outlined ghosts of all my squalor, all my terrible, ordinary sins.

What if hell were just that? No fire and brimstone, just all our dead deeds come back to us forever. Just all our paid-for-with-this-glib-t-shirt dead.

We would wish for what Graham claimed to have–

An unequivocal Redeemer.

Job 19:25 NIV

[25] I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.